We have all been condemned at one time or another. By friends, family, teachers, spiritual leaders, or other authorities in our lives. It feels awful, but it’s a common experience. In John 8:2-11, we see how Jesus responds to those who are condemned.
1. Condemned Sinner
The woman is condemned by the Pharisees as a sinner in John 8:4-5. They were right that those guilty of adultery are condemned by the law of Moses (see Deut. 22:22). And the woman, in her shame and sin, knows she deserves it.And despite our best intentions, so do we.
2. Condemned God
The Pharisees are seeking to condemned, not just the woman, but Jesus Christ, God in the flesh. They seek to condemn him by throwing his words back in his face, and getting him in legal and political trouble. And they want to condemn Jesus as a false teacher, showing he is either a legalist (who would condone the stoning) or an antinomian (who says God’s law doesn’t matter).
3. No Condemnation in Christ Jesus
Instead of fall in the trap, Jesus stoops and begins writing on the ground. He disarms the crowd by saying, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). And he shows what the gospel does to us. It doesn’t leave us to antinomianism or legalism. It brings us to grace in Christ where we are taught by him to “go and sin no more.”
Reflection & Application Questions
- What are some examples of condemnation that happen in our culture? (Think of social media, the legal justice system, accusations of sexual impropriety, and religious institutions)
- Why do we as 21st century people have such a hard time with the idea that sin deserves divine condemnation? Why do we avoid thinking of this sort of thing?
- How have you contributed to the unraveling of the love on which God founded the world?
- Do you tend to be more antinomian (anti-law) or legalistic in your spiritual life? Why?
- Why did Christ have to be condemned in our place?
- What does the fact that Christ was condemned for us mean for our relationship to God? What does it mean for our relationship toward others?